Stress is a Fact of Life; Deal With It!
By Bill Willard
Deep-dish stress can make you feel helpless, as if there is no way of overcoming problems except coping with them until the situation improves. For small-business owners and freestyle entrepreneurs, pressure and stress are routine parts of the scenery—like the furniture, coffee cups or mail delivery. In short: Stress is SOP to SBOs! What is usually not standard operating procedure, however, is the ability to deal with the everyday stress of running a business by letting it roll off our shoulders like water off a duck.
What I Think: If that applies to you, rather than allowing stress to get you down, try fielding everyday anxieties with a shoulder shrug and confident, So, what else it new?
When and if you can manage that, you can turn potentially debilitating situations to your advantage. Do it well enough, often enough, and your wry self-confidence will become part of the professional demeanor you project to your employees, to your customers and, best of all, to your competition. What? You say a thing like that is too subtle to be of much practical use in running a business? Sure, it’s subtle…like a man chopping down a tree with a car!
Case in Point: When our son Bill was at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA in 2002, Sue and I would hang on to the few minutes of phone conversation he was able to manage most Saturdays, hoping for only good news. However, Bill would often report having royally screwed up in some way, and being heckled unmercifully for it by the Instructors (one time, he’d even dropped his unwieldy, padded Pugil stick during a fight…in front of the Company commander!). We thought this was awful, but Bill was unfazed.
You see, Bill is prior-enlisted. That is, he had served as an enlisted Marine–a Corporal with a college degree–before his selection as an Officer Candidate soon after 9-11. He explained that OCS instructors deliberately set up Officer Candidates for failure just to see how each responded to extreme pressure. They were looking for people who took everything thrown at them and came back for more: No whining. No excuses. No explanations. Just suck it up and go. And career-minded former enlisted Marines like Bill typically got the very worst of it.
Another time, when they were on a hump (march) in full combat gear, an instructor came up behind Bill’s squad, pulled the DOP kit out of Bill’s pack and began mockingly tossing the contents–tooth brush, tooth paste, shaving gear–over Bill’s shoulder. Without breaking stride, our guy caught and re-stashed all of it, and kept on going.
The Lesson? All that may have been appalling for his parents, but after enduring three months of orchestrated chaos at OCS and the even tougher Basic School (which reportedly made Boot Camp at Parris Island seem like Summer Camp), what really mattered was getting through it and establishing oneself as a decisive, level-headed leader. One-third of the 300 Candidates who started didn’t. Bill finished in the middle of his class. Semper Fi!
The values demonstrated by those vignettes are obvious: selflessness, determination, courage, loyalty, dedication, and integrity. Those are essential qualities Marine Corps officers are expected to bring to the table. But while they are not prerequisites of running a successful small business, when it comes to dealing with the routine stress of being an SBO, they sure can’t hurt.
What Do You Think? Are you a winner when everyday pressures start to mount? How do you manage it? Your comments are welcome. Have you registered?
Note: Captain William L. Willard, Jr. USMC, an Iraq War veteran, is now stationed at Kaneohe MCAS, Hawaii.
Bill Willard has over 30-years experience providing high-impact written communications to small-business owners and independent professionals. Through interactive, Web-based “Do-While-Learning™” programs, e-Newsletters and straight-talking articles, Bill helps clients get the job done: profitably improving performance, helping grow their businesses, skipping expensive mistakes, making the journey to success faster, smoother, easier. And fun! A Phi Beta Kappa and former managing editor, he lives in Clearwater, FL.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his Website: http://www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
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